Wednesday, May 23, 2018

One Month!

           One month to go until race day!  I finally got outside on the bike for the first time on May 13th. I’ll only get outdoors on the bike about 4 times, and they will all be long ones! The majority of my runs have also been on the treadmill, except a few on the track at practice. Those runs went well, but when I’ve gotten outdoors running on the rolling hills, I realized it was tougher than it should have been.  Training indoors is a lot more manageable with little kids though.
Finally getting outside for a ride!
            Going outdoors for the first time had me nervous… would my time on the trainer translate over well? I never ride the trainer in aero (too uncomfortable indoors), and I wondered how I’d handle the hills. In the early part of my Race Effort work, I continued to wonder, but I ended up doing 1 hour 20 minutes at Race Effort and felt really good. The rest of the Race Effort work was broken up because of stop sings, turns, etc. but I did a total of 2:12 at RE (2:34 ride total) and doing over 51 miles. I was pleasantly surprised at how well I did, and I feel like in 4 weeks I’ll be race ready on the bike.
            On the treadmill, I’ve been able to run off the bike at a 7:15/mile pace (incline 1%), but hills do me in, and the run from my house is not kind. I had a goal of sub 7:30 pace for my first outdoor brick run, but went out too fast at 7 minutes for the first mile, before I settled in and averaged 7:14 for 4.75 miles, did an easy quarter, and finished with a half mile at 7:10 pace. Even counting my easy quarter mile, I still averaged 7:21 for the 5.5 miles. On the actual race course, there is initially one big hill up High Cliff, with the remainder being mainly flat. I think I will be able to recover from the hill to be able to handle the rest of the course (albeit still tough).
            It was only my first time outdoors, but my ride still averaged over 20 mph for the 51 miles, including the warm-up and easy spins between intervals. For the race, I’ll also be putting a disc on the back wheel, a race wheel on the front, race tires, and I’ll be wearing my aero helmet as well. I feel like I am on track to go fast on the bike!
            I felt like I barely survived the brick run though, and so I need to consider taking in more calories on the bike. Backing off to a 7:30 pace will also be more feasible. As race day gets closer, I’ll continue to dial everything in to make sure I’m ready to go. Lock laces are on my race shoes, and my wetsuit is patched. My bike is in at the shop getting a tune-up as well. One month to go and I’m ready to hit it hard and then go in and crush the race!

Monday, March 26, 2018

The Cutest Training Partner

            While the two boys are napping, I head out to the garage for, what is typically, my second workout of the day. Some days it might be a run and a quick lift. Other days involve a bike workout. Baya is past the age of naps, and so she will often come out with me and keep me company. She is good at keeping busy and preoccupying herself.
            Last fall, Baya actually got rid of her training wheels, with the goal of doing some BMX racing this summer (you can’t race with training wheels). The garage isn’t big enough to ride her bike around though, so she’ll often ride Myles’s tricycle around instead. This last weekend though, her Daddy built her a sweet upgrade so she can now bike indoors “like her mom.” I think she rode her bike for 20 minutes straight today on her "bike trainer" while I ran. She thought I should have been biking too, but after almost 2 hours on my bike yesterday, there was no way I was getting on it today! After my run, we both did a little weight lifting.
            We do not push youth sports in our house, but we do want to raise our kids to have an active lifestyle, and we want to lead by example. Our kids have seen us coach and workout. Last fall, Baya even biked alongside me when I pushed the boys while running. When we were biking around the neighborhood together this last weekend, we talked about biking and racing. I told her that I race my bike in triathlons. She said that I will probably beat everyone. That girl sets the bar pretty high. I better not let her down!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Back in the Saddle

            When I announced a hiatus from triathlon, I really thought it would actually be a full retirement. I thought about selling my gear, including my precious bike. I barely touched my race bike for 14 months. I barely did any distance running, and I had no interest in pursuing just running races. I swam twice a week, usually, for fun, but otherwise triathlon felt like a thing of the past.
            I started running a little more in the fall, but mostly just for the exercise. Then I started adding in some threshold work because it was challenging and made me feel good afterwards. I increased my swimming to three times per week in mid-October. In December, I got my bike set up on the trainer. Getting back on wasn’t so bad. Actually, it was kind of good. I did a few 30 minute rides, just for fun, just to see what kind of watts I could do. A couple weeks in, I did a FTP (Functional Threshold) test, and I was at 200 watts. My last known FTP? In 2013, I was around 209. That was also at a time where I was performing very well. While I strove to match that every year, in reality I don’t think I ever made it back to that level of power. By the end of December, I was eyeing a race. Not just any race. A HALF-IRON DISTANCE race.
            I’ve spent the last 2 months gearing up for it. Less than 4 months until race day (June 23rd). I’m planning on it being a “one and done” race for the summer, so I can have more freedom to do fun stuff with the kids, without the obligation of training. The biggest thing – I want to enjoy the process. So far I am loving it! I really never thought I’d feel this way again.
I’ve surpassed training goals already and I’m feeling great! There isn’t any perceived pressure from being sponsored either. One of my first rides back was 2x10’ (5’) @ 190 watts. I’ve already worked up to 4x21’ (1.5’) @ 190 watts (1:24 total at Goal Race Effort)! I wanted to work up to running 4 miles at 7’ (threshold) by the end of February, and I’ve done multiple 5 mile runs at threshold and felt GOOD!
It’s also an emotional journey. “Feeling good” has not been normal for me over the past year. With my hemoglobin, iron, and ferritin having tanked after Rowyn’s birth, it took a long time to come back from that. I struggled to go slow. I struggled to breathe, to move, and I was not myself. As a result, I’m all the more determined, but also overwhelmed with feeling blessed. It has changed my perspective on triathlon. It is now a gift. And what’s even better – I think I can come back and kick some butt.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Badger State Games: Nordic Skiing

            Rachael and I arrived at Nine Mile only 15 minutes before our race was set to start after being delayed that morning.  We quick picked up our shirts and bibs, had a bathroom break, ran shirts back to the vehicle, and put our skis on for the very first time ever, with only 3 minutes to spare before the 21K classic was starting! Crazy!
My first fall was just after we got started, which was followed by many more (at least TWELVE to be more precise)! We also missed a turn at the bottom of a hill (it was poorly marked). We would have had really fast times if it weren’t for all those delays! The course was really icy and scary even.  In fact, when I saw a caution sign at the top of one hill, a lady, who was an experienced skier, suggested taking off our skis and carrying them down the hill – and that’s exactly what I did! I had no advantage (except that I didn’t die at the bottom) so I hope that wasn’t breaking any rules. Prior to that hill, I had a couple really bad wipeouts, one in which I think I left some skin behind on the icy trail.  I was hurting so bad at that point, that I was terrified of the downhills!
            Going up the hills was a struggle and we got worked.  It was a lot of upper body.  The second half of the course was less intense and the flatter sections with gentler hills were actually a lot of fun.  All of the big hills seemed to always have a sharp turn at the bottom of them too. The race was a lot more technical, and slick, than I was anticipating.
            All of my training had been on waxless skis on non-groomed trails, which was pretty slow going and much more controlled.  This was nothing like that! We borrowed wax skis. The course was groomed with big hills, and it was warm the previous day, which iced everything over.  It was a completely different ball game.  We did really well though and ended up 5th and 6th overall (I was 3rd in my age group and Rachael was 1st in hers)! There were a lot of laughs, bruises, and exhaustion, but it was a worthwhile experience.  As Rachael put it, “It’s great to do something with the goal of just finishing!” My body is in a great deal of pain but the memories and laughs will outlast that.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Off to the Races!

            January 27th will mark the day of my first cross-country ski race! I’ll be going down to Wausau for winter Badger State Games with a friend and fellow track coach. I did a lot of skiing last year (averaged 4-5x/week) and skied a lot between Christmas and New Years this year, but have since discovered that the reality of skiing with 3 littles is next to impossible.  I did it once by myself with Rowyn in the front pack, be he has outgrown that.  The straps for the back carrier interfere with the harness of the chariot and Baya said she can’t hang on the back for very long if I pull her on her skis behind it.  She does love using her skis on her own though!
Nice scenery for skiing!
            So now I’ve been going once/week by myself for a long ski and been working up to 2 hours. I’m counting on swim/bike/run fitness to get me the rest of the way. I’m still on non-groomed trails and have waxless skis, so my pace is far from impressive, and I look forward to seeing what it will be like in a race.  It may very well take me a long time. We are dong the 21K (roughly a half-marathon) classic ski race.  If I don’t line up wax skis for us, I’ll pick up some wax that is designed for waxless skis.  Nevertheless, I think it will be a fun experience!
            I love BSG events, so I’m glad this is the race I’ll be doing.  It will be my 4th different BSG event (duathlon, swimming, and track thus far), but my first winter one! Since December, I have been training, and it feels great.  Skiing will be a fun adventure as my focus on the next big thing intensifies.  I’ll announce what that will be soon!